Explore UAB

K12 HL143958, UAB K12 Career Development Program in HIV-Related Heart, Lung and Blood Research

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated there were more than 1.1 million people in the US living with HIV in 2014. Effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased the life expectancy of HIV+ individuals and the number of US adults living with HIV is projected to increase by almost 40% over the next decade. This has created a new challenge for people living with HIV in the US. People living with HIV have a high risk for heart, lung, blood and sleep related diseases (NHLBI-targeted diseases). Further, the prevalence and incidence of both HIV and NHLBI-targeted diseases are higher among African Americans compared with other race/ethnic groups and in the South compared with other regions of the US. Despite the recognized importance of NHLBI-targeted diseases in people with HIV, few researchers have been trained in this area. The burden of HIV and NHLBI-targeted diseases is higher in the Southeast US compared with other geographic regions.

The UAB K12 Institutional Career Development Program in HIV-Related Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep Research (Paul Muntner, PhD, PD/PI and E. Turner Overton, MD, Co-PD/PI) addresses an urgent need for training of early stage investigators (ESIs) to deal with the growing population of HIV-infected individuals who are living longer because of the expansion of HIV treatments but who are experiencing a high incidence of heart, lung and blood diseases. This is a particular problem in the Southeastern US, which has a disproportionate share of new HIV infections, with a growing number of HIV-infected individuals living in rural settings and being of racial/ethnic minorities or low socioeconomic status. The K12 Program offers an intensive didactic curriculum with interdisciplinary training emphasizing HIV, heart, lung, blood and sleep-related diseases. Qualified trainees are referred to the K12 Program as potential scholars to continue their career paths toward becoming successful independent investigators with special research interest in NHLBI-targeted diseases.

The overall objective of this K12 grant is to develop and sustain a training program for scholars to gain interdisciplinary, intensive mentored research training and career development to become research leaders in the field of HIV- related heart, lung, blood and sleep disease. To accomplish this goal, we have designed a career development program that is interdisciplinary, involves didactic and experiential training opportunities, and contains intensive mentorship. The key activities we propose include to (1) develop and deliver an intensive, didactic curriculum with research rotations for additional skill development, (2) identify and recruit five scholars for training to conduct heart, lung, blood and sleep-related research in the context of HIV, (3) provide career development support through individual and team mentoring, (4) foster interdisciplinary team-science, and (5) provide tailored research projects for scholars to lead. The UAB program will collaborate with the other K12 awardees from this NHLBI program to maximize opportunities and experiences received by scholars through coordinating activities, including online courses. We will build this program on a strong foundation at UAB including (1) the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), (2) a clinic site for major HIV studies (e.g., WIHS and REPRIEVE), (3) ongoing NHLBI-funded cohort studies (e.g., CARDIA), (4) a large pool of established senior mentors, (5) established research methods and career development workshops, (5) long-standing T32 and K12 training programs and (6) a CTSA. Also, the co-Principal Investigators for this grant have complimentary experience leading cardiovascular disease (Dr. Muntner) and HIV (Dr. Overton) research, strong track-records mentoring scholars towards independence, and an established research collaboration involving lipids and hypertension among patients with HIV. By completion of the K12 program, scholars be prepared to assemble, launch and lead interdisciplinary teams conducting HIV-related heart, lung, blood and sleep research.